French drivers getting worse, says new report

French drivers getting worse, says new report
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The reputation of French drivers is hardly positive among foreigners and a report published on Thursday suggests it’s unlikely to improve anytime soon, with drivers reportedly less and less respectful of the rules of the road.

Whether it's talking on the telephone, drink driving, skipping red lights or speeding, the French are ignoring the rules of the road in greater numbers.

An annual study published by the Axa Prevention insurance company concluded that drivers in France are getting worse.

The study was based on interviews with hundreds of drivers across the country about their behaviour on the road with the insurance company concluding that there was a general deterioration in their respect for the rules.

“Even though there are more speed cameras and as many safe-driving campaigns that are well publicized, we can see a real deterioration,” said Eric Lemaire, head of Axa Prevention.

His company’s report shows that more drivers admit to using their mobile phones behind the wheel, including for texting as well as for using the phone’s GPS.

Perhaps the most worrying statistic is the rise in the number of motorists who admit to getting behind the wheel after having a drink.

READ ALSO: How French motorists drive expats crazy

Even if a large majority of people realize that driving after two drinks is dangerous, 28 percent of respondents admitted to doing it, a slight rise on the 26 percent last year.

Drivers in France are also more likely to stay behind the wheel for long periods of time – up to four or five hours – without taking a break.

Other stats in the report showed that drivers were more likely to go through red lights and break the speed limit.

Although surprisingly for anyone having lived in Paris fewer drivers are resorting to the use of their horn.

For Axa’s Eric Lemaire, the deterioration in driving behaviour is hard to explain, but perhaps can be put down to a certain French attitude towards crack downs by authorities, which “end up bearing less fruit”.

He also blames a lot of the problems on mobile phones, which is resulting in drivers taking less caution.

“Sending texts and using a GPS both contribute to drivers paying less attention on the roads,” he said.

The Local's readers, many of whom know all about the hazards of driving in France, reacted to the report on Twitter on Thursday.




Axa’s survey comes at a time when the number of deaths on France’s roads has shown a worrying rise.

A total of 3,103 people died by the end of November 2015, 148 more than at the same period in 2013.

In all road deaths in 2014 rose by around five percent compared to the previous year.

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